Sunday, September 13, 2009

Blue Gold

Shivantha Withanage

Water is the most important thing in the earth. Without water neither plants nor animals can live. Even there couldn’t be life on earth without water. Because life was originated through the water and also water is the most powerful thing in the world. As it can originate the life, it can threaten the existence of life. Ancient people recognize these behaviors of water and they worshiped water with some kind of spirituality.
All the civilizations on the earth were based around the water. So the civilizations in the past like Mesopotamian and Nile obey to water. And they never cross the line laid by the natural statistics of water. Because they knew their lives are depending on it. This theory is true for the present and will be true forever.
There is a natural water cycle on earth which is known as the Hydrological cycle. In this process water circulates from the atmosphere to the earth and back, from a height of 15km above the ground to a depth of 5km beneath it. Water that evaporates from the oceans and from other water resources on the earth goes to the atmosphere and creates a shield around the planet. The saturated water steams of it form clouds and when those clouds get cool they form rain, necessarily the rain drops that have a length of 1mm-5mm fall on the earth surface.
There is a huge amount of water in our planet. If you take a look at a photograph of our planet taken from space you may see a large blue area on the earth. That’s because a large area of the surface is covered from water. The total amount of water in the earth is approximately1.4 billion cubic kilometers. But the amount of fresh water is approximately 36 million cubic kilometers, it’s 2.6% of total water in the planet. Only 11 million cubic kilometers or 0.77% of water counts as a part of the hydrological cycle. But human can only use 34000 cubic kilometers of water for their needs that usually comes from the rain. It helps to renew the fresh water in rivers and lakes. This type of water is considered as the useful water for human, because it’s fresh and it’s the only way to grow crops without finite water resources. So anyone can understand that fresh water is limited and it has begun to runoff.
But people get the maximum benefits from this little of water. We need water mainly for drinking. We can live few more days without food, but we can’t live even a day without water, either we’ll die from dehydration. We need water for watering crops, washing clothes and for sanitary and fire brigades use water to control fire that isn’t caused by oil. Another main use of water is the hydro electricity that generated by the potential energy of water. All the boats and other ships float on the water. So it helps for transportation. Natural water reservoirs like oceans and lakes give habitats for various types of animal species. We eat fish and other animals which are from oceans and other places. So water also provides fish for food and all the plants need water to grow and harvest. So water helps to get sufficient food for all the living beings.
People all over the world use a huge amount of water for their daily needs. So the fresh water in the earth is running out. Reason for this is the changes of the ground water, caused by the deforestation. But we would like to believe that there is an infinite supply of fresh water and it will never run out even all of us consume it. But this assumption is extremely false. We don’t see that the precious resource is disappearing. The fresh water available on the planet is less than one-half of 1% of all water in the earth. And the rest is sea water, frozen water in polar and inaccessible ground water. So we should be very careful when we are using it.
Water pollution is a threat to water. This case was not such a problem in the past, because ancient people care about water. But in present, people pollute water from numerous ways. Such as mixing harmful chemicals, heavy metals, hot water and many other pollutants like polythine to the water. And people turn their toilet outlets and drains around towns, in to lakes and streams. And landfills on wet lands are disastrous. Many people in developing countries use sand for their constructions. So people dig river beds to get sand. There are many bad effects of polluting water. When water gets polluted with agro chemicals and from the hot water release from factories are causes to destroy the bio diversity of water. Many types of animals die from eutrofication and algal blooming in water as a result of water pollution. And it will be a reason to spread diseases. The chemicals released from factories are harmful for the crops. Sand mining on rivers and streams is a main reason for flooding and sea water starts to mix with fresh water because the water level in the river is lower than the water level in the sea. There are many other bad effects of water pollution. If we don’t recognize our relationship with the water, our knowledge, experiments and wealth will be meaningless. We should improve the sustainability of using water and we should decrease water pollution.
Water is a valuable resource. Any one can realize it from wars occurred to own water. According to the ancient records, there was a war in the period of Lord Buddha. It was to share the water of Rohini River in India. But Lord Buddha came there and settled the conflict. And Lord Buddha thought that lives are worth than water. The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is also to share water in the Jordan River. The conflict between Tamilnadhu and Karnataka in India for the Kaveri River and conflict between America and Mexico over Colorado are main water wars. The war for the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Middle East and the conflict between African countries over the Nile River are also water wars. There are some actions which are taken by international authorities to stop these kinds of conflicts. There are many international protocols and conventions on water. The Territorial Sovereignty theory, The Natural Water Flow theory, The Equitable Apportionment theory, The Community of Interest theory, Helsinki Rules and United Nations Convention on the Law of Non-Navigational are some of the main international guidelines.
Some rich people and business companies use fresh water as one of their products. They privatize water for their own benefits and they earn lot of money from selling natural resources. People have to pay them, because they haven’t got another choice. Water privatizing in Atlanta, Buenos Aires, Bogotá and Camden in USA are few examples for it. So water privatization has become a big case over the planet.
Now you have an idea about what is water, how much fresh water do we have, what are the uses of water, what are the effects of water pollution and how worth is water. Water is our life, it seconds only to the blood. So we shouldn’t waste it. But large amount of rain water goes back to the oceans without being used. King Prakrama Bahu who was an ancient king ruled in Sri Lanka has told once “Any drop of rain water must not flow to the ocean without any use”. He worked as he told and made many large tanks to store rain water. If we waste water it’ll be a reason for a lack of fresh water. We must not contaminate water, because the ecosystem is sustained on water. So actions against water are actions to destroy our selves. But humans have to make reverence to water. We are not too late. We almost have time to change this system and to protect it. We should preserve water the “Blue Gold”. Then the future world will be better than the present.


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